Structure and routine helped her transition to a new sober life

When you listen to Lauren talk, it’s hard to believe there was a time when all she cared about was getting high. Today she is the Director of Corporate Establishment and Personnel at a major sign company in Oakland and has been clean for more than nine years. She credits her success to her daughter Gladys and the caring staff at Parisi House on the Hill.

“The fact that you can have your child with you made all the difference,” Lauren says. “Because I got to get clean with her and learn how to love her, I think that’s why I’m still clean. Gladys literally saved my life, and Parisi House showed me the way. They both saved me really.”

Lauren began using drugs at age 14 after her father left the house and her mother “went off the deep end and started smoking pot and drinking.” Soon her mom was dating men who weren’t good for her, and then the meth use began, Lauren says.

“I started getting high with them, there was sexual abuse, it wasn’t good,” she adds. “I got linked up with one of her boyfriend’s brothers when I was around 16, and he was bad news.”

Lauren was arrested and served three months in jail when she was 18. She met Gladys’ dad through someone she knew in jail and when her mother lost their apartment, Lauren moved in with him. Then at age 23, Lauren found out she was pregnant with Gladys. “I was a complete mess,” she says.

She quit using meth on July 21, 2011 – two days before Gladys was born. “I was hoping the drugs weren’t still in my system, but of course they were,” she says. “It was the worst day of my life, but looking back it was the best day.”

Lauren had a choice – she could go to Parisi House and get help staying sober, or she could go to jail.

At first Lauren figured she would only stay at Parisi House for a few days. She didn’t plan on sticking with it, but something changed as she began to get the care she needed. She says the support and guidance she received from the staff – and the other moms – really made the difference.

She remembers one day when her daughter needed a bath, but she didn’t know what to do, so one of the other moms helped her. “She taught me how to give her a bath and get her cleaned up. Slowly being around these other women really taught me how to love my daughter. They just seemed to have more instincts than me.”

The focus on the mother-child bond was also critical. “We did a lot of mommy and me bonding programs,” she says. “They really help to reaffirm the relationship. We did arts and crafts, and I made her little footprint. My daughter was just born, so we were starting our relationship, but some moms had kids that were 2 or 3 years old. I really saw it rebuild the relationship for those moms.”

Lauren says the structure and routine at Parisi House helped her transition from the way she had been living to a new sober lifestyle. “You forget about the rudimentary things of being a normal, functioning person when you’re out running the streets – for years I passed out in my clothes,” she says. “But then you realize you’re supposed to take a shower, and get up and have breakfast, and go to bed at a certain time.”

The moms are responsible for cooking and cleaning the communal living areas, as well as grocery shopping. “We had to do meal planning and budgeting, real life skills,” Lauren says. “I was there during the holidays, and I forgot what that was like. Who cares about a Christmas tree when you’re getting high. We had groups come in during the holidays, and we baked cookies for them and made hot chocolate. You forget this is what normal people do.”

Lauren says it was hard work, but she is incredibly grateful for the help she received at Parisi House. “I walked out of there with a three-inch binder full of assignments,” she adds.

She’s not sure how far she was into the program when she really started to commit to her sobriety – and her daughter – but Lauren says, “I just remember one day I looked into her basinet, and she looked up at me and smiled, and I thought ‘OK, you’re pretty cute; maybe I’ll stay a little longer.’”

Now it’s hard to imagine Lauren ever doubting her ability to be a good mother to her baby girl. Today her life is all about Gladys and the two are inseparable. She loves watching Gladys compete in gymnastics and she serves as a leader for her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.

“Gladys always tells me she doesn’t know what she would do without me,” Lauren says. “She deserves to have my love. I’m trying to be the person I know I needed growing up. I want to succeed and show her how to succeed.”

Structure and routine helped her transition to a new sober life

When you listen to Lauren talk, it’s hard to believe there was a time when all she cared about was getting high. Today she is the Director of Corporate Establishment and Personnel at a major sign company in Oakland and has been clean for more than nine years. She credits her success to her daughter Gladys and the caring staff at Parisi House on the Hill.

“The fact that you can have your child with you made all the difference,” Lauren says. “Because I got to get clean with her and learn how to love her, I think that’s why I’m still clean. Gladys literally saved my life, and Parisi House showed me the way. They both saved me really.”

Lauren began using drugs at age 14 after her father left the house and her mother “went off the deep end and started smoking pot and drinking.” Soon her mom was dating men who weren’t good for her, and then the meth use began, Lauren says.

“I started getting high with them, there was sexual abuse, it wasn’t good,” she adds. “I got linked up with one of her boyfriend’s brothers when I was around 16, and he was bad news.”

Lauren was arrested and served three months in jail when she was 18. She met Gladys’ dad through someone she knew in jail and when her mother lost their apartment, Lauren moved in with him. Then at age 23, Lauren found out she was pregnant with Gladys. “I was a complete mess,” she says.

She quit using meth on July 21, 2011 – two days before Gladys was born. “I was hoping the drugs weren’t still in my system, but of course they were,” she says. “It was the worst day of my life, but looking back it was the best day.”

Lauren had a choice – she could go to Parisi House and get help staying sober, or she could go to jail.

At first Lauren figured she would only stay at Parisi House for a few days. She didn’t plan on sticking with it, but something changed as she began to get the care she needed. She says the support and guidance she received from the staff – and the other moms – really made the difference.

She remembers one day when her daughter needed a bath, but she didn’t know what to do, so one of the other moms helped her. “She taught me how to give her a bath and get her cleaned up. Slowly being around these other women really taught me how to love my daughter. They just seemed to have more instincts than me.”

The focus on the mother-child bond was also critical. “We did a lot of mommy and me bonding programs,” she says. “They really help to reaffirm the relationship. We did arts and crafts, and I made her little footprint. My daughter was just born, so we were starting our relationship, but some moms had kids that were 2 or 3 years old. I really saw it rebuild the relationship for those moms.”

Lauren says the structure and routine at Parisi House helped her transition from the way she had been living to a new sober lifestyle. “You forget about the rudimentary things of being a normal, functioning person when you’re out running the streets – for years I passed out in my clothes,” she says. “But then you realize you’re supposed to take a shower, and get up and have breakfast, and go to bed at a certain time.”

The moms are responsible for cooking and cleaning the communal living areas, as well as grocery shopping. “We had to do meal planning and budgeting, real life skills,” Lauren says. “I was there during the holidays, and I forgot what that was like. Who cares about a Christmas tree when you’re getting high. We had groups come in during the holidays, and we baked cookies for them and made hot chocolate. You forget this is what normal people do.”

Lauren says it was hard work, but she is incredibly grateful for the help she received at Parisi House. “I walked out of there with a three-inch binder full of assignments,” she adds.

She’s not sure how far she was into the program when she really started to commit to her sobriety – and her daughter – but Lauren says, “I just remember one day I looked into her basinet, and she looked up at me and smiled, and I thought ‘OK, you’re pretty cute; maybe I’ll stay a little longer.’”

Now it’s hard to imagine Lauren ever doubting her ability to be a good mother to her baby girl. Today her life is all about Gladys and the two are inseparable. She loves watching Gladys compete in gymnastics and she serves as a leader for her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.

“Gladys always tells me she doesn’t know what she would do without me,” Lauren says. “She deserves to have my love. I’m trying to be the person I know I needed growing up. I want to succeed and show her how to succeed.”